Day 5 – Joplin to Oklahoma City
Today was very memorable. We got an early start and took off for Riverton, Kansas and the famous Rainbow Arch bridge. I believe this is the last remaining arch bridge of this nature along Route 66.
I missed a turn to Riverton and ended up in Baxter Springs, Kansas. Wanting to be on time for the rendezvous with my colleagues, I stopped a "local" in Baxter Springs (known better, I think, as Radiator Springs in the movie Cars) and asked for directions. It turned out that I had approached a man known as Craig "Crazy Legs" Walker who was the inspiration for that movie's character Mater. One never knows what blessings will abound along the highways of life. Sometime ask me why they call him "Crazy Legs" or better, let me show you.
The first interview took place on stage in the beautiful Coleman Theatre in Miami (pronounced Mi-am-uh), Oklahoma. The staff was delightful and the property is without peer. Initially we asked Chuck Chestnut, a third generation local attorney, to visit with us. When I learned that his son Michael is coming to Pepperdine's Seaver College as a freshman this fall, we invited Chuck, his wife Shirley (a family physician), and incoming Wave Michael to all participate. Having parent and child engage in this discussion was very productive and interesting.
Michael wants to come to Seaver to study religion and eventually to become an attorney. He is leaving a loving home and a strong Oklahoma tradition to come west, primarily he said, because Pepperdine is a faith-based institution with a strong tradition of service. His affection for his family and his community is apparent, as are his sense of self-confidence and desire for new discovery. His parents support him in his decision.
I asked Shirley to imagine taking a future grandchild for a walk to discuss timeless values she would like to impart. She spoke of self-reliance, courage, and faith. Chuck, in response to the same question, focused on encouragement to enjoy life, nature, and people.
This is a family that communicates remarkably well. Good for them. I asked Michael what he would miss in terms of family traditions and "family meals together" was his first response. Again, good for them.
Later in the evening we hosted an alumni/friends event at the Skirvin Hilton in Oklahoma City. So many important people in my life attended and made this homecoming complete. At the end of the day, it is people who make this world a meaningful place.
Today I made friends with a new Pepperdine family, reconnected with some wonderful friends, and had my picture taken with the real-life Mater. Topping this day will not be easy but there is always hope and there is a lot of road between Oklahoma City and Amarillo.
I was doing research for a speech a few years ago and ran into a quote that went like this: "The number of breaths we take in life is not nearly as important as the number of moments we experience that take our breath away." For some reason that sentiment just came to mind as I finish this entry and look forward to a new day.